Bargaining contract benefits students, union says

By Brian Soergel | Aug 31, 2017

When teachers in the Edmonds School District welcome students back to school Wednesday, Sept. 6, they’ll have the satisfaction of knowing they have a new three-year contract. It’s one that benefits students, said Edmonds Education Association President Andi Nofziger-Meadows, which was the goal all along.

The union and the Edmonds School District reached a tentative agreement on a new contract Aug. 15 – after a four-hour marathon negotiation session the day before – which union members ratified at a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 29.

The district’s board of directors ratified the negotiation during a meeting Wednesday, Aug. 30.

“It is a great contract for both the kids and the certificated staff in our system,” Nofziger-Meadows said. “We would have liked to do more with class-size reduction, but until the state fulfills the McCleary funding, we are unable to do so.

“In their latest budget, they did enhance staffing for K-3 classrooms, but ignored the rest of the students, so our contract works to address those inequities created by the Legislature.”

The new collective bargaining agreement is valid for three years, and – pending approval by the district – avoids the Edmonds Education Association’s first strike since 1987.

Here are some highlights of the contract. Over the course of the next year it phases in:

• Enhanced staffing for grades K-3, based on increased resources for the state;

• Lower class sizes for general education classes in grades 4-12 that have more than six students with special-education services that address academic impacts, or English-language learners;

• Lower class sizes for secondary learning support students;

• Full-time counselors in all elementary and K-8 schools – most elementary schools did not have full-time counselors before; there were only part-time counselors and psychologists;

• Increased certificated nursing time in all schools;

• Lower caseloads or enhanced staffing allocations for those who provide services to special education students – Title 1/Learning Assistance Program (LAP) teachers, psychologists, behavior specialists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech language pathologists and audiologists.

• LAP is a state program that offers supplemental services for students scoring below grade level in English/Language Arts and math. Title 1 is a federal program that provides increased resources to schools with high numbers of children from low-income families;

• Four additional student half days built into the school calendar to provide additional time for certificated staff to plan, assess, collaborate and communicate with parents; and

• Provisions to encourage substitute teachers to work in Edmonds, hopefully reducing substitute unavailability, which puts stress on the district.

Certified employees – teachers and administrators – will receive a 2.3 percent cost-of-living increase from the state and an additional $40 per month toward insurance premiums.

“In Edmonds, we do our salary increases differently than many districts,” Nofziger-Meadows said. “We get the cost-of-living from the state, but we will also get a midpoint adjustment based on bringing our salaries up to the midpoint of nine comparable area districts.

“Last year our midpoint adjustment was 2.552 percent. We are continuing that practice until we negotiate a local salary schedule, as required by the state once the current state salary allocation model goes away – this is part of the new funding law just passed in June, and we’re still trying to sort out the details.

“Thus, Edmonds teachers get a raise every year, but we don’t bargain it at the table. Over a decade ago, we bargained a process for determining that raise every year.”

The contract also allocates $400 per full-time employee for school supplies, an increase of $50. In addition, the $50 professional development reimbursement was increased to $100.

Additional highlights of the contract include:

• Adding a discretionary allocation to fund advisers for clubs that promote diversity and/or equity;

• Adding grandchildren to the definition of immediate family, which impacts sick leave, family care leave and bereavement leave;

• Adding death of a child or domestic partner to 10 days of bereavement leave – it was previously just for spouses;

• Decreasing the number of days to qualify for a long-term substitute position from 45 days to 30 days;

• Decreasing the number of days a substitute must work to qualify for the highest rate of pay from 120 days to 75 days.



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